Todays date, 15th August will forever be in the history book as VJ-Day or Victory Over Japan Day. Today on the 75th anniversary of this historic occasion we commemorate those from all sides who put their lives on the line for what they believed to be the greater good.
There are an unlimited number of stories from the Pacific theatre of operations, with this weeks image I will share a small part of just one.
This weeks image is of the bows of Kamakaze class Destroyer, Oite. Oite can be translated to mean “Tail Wind”. As a metrological name, it means Oite was a First Class destroyer of the Imperial Japanese Navy.
15th February 1944, Oite departed Japanese stronghold Truk (Chuuk) in Micronesia, escorting damaged cruiser IJN Agano from the back to Japan for repairs. 16th February Agano was attacked with torpedoes from submarine USS Skate. 2 torpedoes struck the side of Agano causing irreparable damage. Oite collected 523 from Agano and set sail back to Truk. Oite entered Truk Lagoon through the northern passage in the outer reef just as US Taskforce 58 was commencing Operation Hailstone – the US Navy attack on Truk. It is said that Oite saw the attack and turned about creating a huge white “U” in the water from the high speed turn, this made her presence blatant to the US aircraft. Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber aircraft attacked with torpedoes and sunk Oite. Oite split in 2 and sank quickly with a loss of all but 20 of her own crew and all of the Agano survivors – an immediate loss of 695 men.
The 1969 documentary film Lagoon of Lost Ships by underwater pioneer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, showed to the public the huge amount of human skeleton remains within the wrecks. It is said that this outraged Japan who sought permission from Truk to exhume the remains. Permission was granted and a Japanese team exhumed remains from as many wrecks of the “Ghost Fleet” as they could. The skeletal remains had a ceremonial cremation. Many bones were not collected and remain on the wrecks.
Today, Oite lays on the sandy bottom of the lagoon at a depth of 61m. The ship broke in the middle splitting the he into 2 main pieces that lay almost parallel to each other, the stern section upright, the bow section laying on its starboard side. This image shows the bow laying on its starboard side on the seabed with a remote strobe illuminating the underside and a diver in the background. The image was captured with our old Canon EOS 5d mk III with 8-15mm f4 L Fishey lens. This lens is still our favourite for underwater images and photogrammetry. Aswell as the remote strobe, lighting was from a pair of INON z240, one mounted either side of the camera housing.
In 2019 Marcus returned to Truk to spearhead the start of the Truk Wreck Baseline Project. The projects intention is to create 3d models – using photogrammetry – of the entire “Ghost Fleet”. Oite was scanned during this trip, creating this 3d model.